Practicing Jedi overlooked on 2011 Australian Census

Practicing Jedi have been overlooked on the Australian Census. Then again, pretty much everything has been overlooked on the latest census, but the Jedi issue is more important than you might realise.

YodaIt’s important to me that statistics are as accurate as possible. After all, 76% of statistics are made up on the spot, including that one. But I’m a stats nerd, so when we have a census, we need it to be as close to truth as possible. With that in mind, I entreated my minions on Twitter to make sure they did the right thing on census night. If you have no religion, I told them from a lectern of self-recognised authority, make sure you put No Religion. Don’t mess up the stats by putting something stupid like Jedi or Pastafarian (bless His Noodly Appendage). I was very quickly corrected by a number of minions. It doesn’t matter, they said, because putting Jedi would automatically get counted as No Religion anyway. I was outraged. What about the actual practicing Jedi out there? Suddenly their voice is not being heard.

Apparently the reason for this is because Jedi or Jediism (and who doesn’t love a word with a double i?) has not been legally decreed as an official religion. This pisses me off. Who are the Australian government, or anyone else for that matter, to tell us what our religion can be? In the 2001 New Zealand census there were more Jedi than Buddhists or Hindus. Of course, most of those 1.5% of respondents were being smartarses, but a small number may well associate very personally with Jediism. And good for them.

The biggest “officially recognised” religion in Australia is based on “the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.” That’s the definition of Christianity from the Urban Dictionary and it’s pretty bloody bang on.

Jedi ChurchThe NZ based Jedi Church states: “The Jedi Church believes that there is one all powerful force that binds all things in the universe together. The Jedi religion is something innate inside everyone of us, the Jedi Church believes that our sense of morality is innate. So quiet your mind and listen to the force within you!”

Screw the “official recognition”, I know which one of those makes more sense to me. And which one is likely to be the cause of far fewer wars, oppression and suffering.

I don’t follow any religion. On the census I put No Religion to make sure the stats were accurate from my input. But the stats are way off because the things people choose to believe in aren’t recognised. If someone can be counted for believing in a self-fathering Jewish zombie, someone else should be counted for believing in the Force. If someone puts Jedi and gets counted as No Religion, there’s a problem. Imagine putting Catholic or Muslim and getting counted as No Religion. It’s the same thing. And the belief of Jediism is no less reasonable than Catholicism or Islam. Just because they’ve been around since medieval times doesn’t make them somehow more valid. It makes them medieval. And we’ve all seen where that leads us.

So not only did the Australian Bureau of Statistics give me no place note down my dog on the census form, even though he’s a very important member of my family, or let me note that I ride a motorcycle, stating that only cars count for some reason, they’re also telling me what I can believe. It’s one thing to recognise a religion for legal purposes. As far as I’m concerned all organised religions should be declared businesses and pay tax as such. Tax exemption for believing in an imaginary friend is really only something that should apply to pocket money for children. But legality aside, if I choose to believe in something, that’s entirely my choice. If the ABS want a true snapshot of the nation, they should accept all belief systems, not just a handful they think are worthy through some arbitrary decision. If they want to include religion on the census they need to make a proper job of it.

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14 thoughts on “Practicing Jedi overlooked on 2011 Australian Census

  1. You’re right. The Catholic church has killed far more people than the Jedi have in six movies and all the books combined.

    When Jesus walks the earth again it will be the zombie apocalypse.

  2. Hear, hear! Well said. I have no idea what religions are offically counted when you put something in the “other” box, but it makes sense to me that, whatever your religious beliefs, they should be recognised when it comes to collating statistics. What’s the point of collecting statistics if they’re only going to count the ones they like?

    As a side note, good on you for encouraging people to put ‘No Religion’ if they, in fact, have no religion. I was horribly offended by the stream of “everyone put christian” emails and FB statuses that abounded in the week before the census.

  3. You mean the people saying things like, “Put Christian on the census or be ready to have a Mosque built in your street!” and other such ignorance? Yeah, pretty offensive.

  4. I could not agree more with this post. Since religions are all essentially based on the intangible, they should be counted equally, regardless of how long they have existed for (or whether they originated in a sci-fi movie).
    Out of interest though, I’d like to know what percentage of families had members all practicing a different religion. My folks are Anglican and Catholic, so they got pissy with me when I told them to mark No Religion under my name. I wonder if other families had similar arguments.
    But next time someone tries to convert me to Christianity (or any other belief in an imaginary friend), I am so going to throw that Urban Dictionary definition back in their face 😀

  5. Bang on. Have to second the awesomeness of that particular definition and keep in the repertoire for when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking. Great post.

    Granted, I’m Canadian, so we had a different Census – but ours was so short that there wasn’t even anywhere to claim a religion. Heh!

  6. Section 116 of the Commonwealth of Australia states, “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.”
    Now given that my religion, which can not be named (for religious reasons), doesn’t allow me to complete any “compulsory” forms; I ponder the outcome when the census collector comes knocking at my door.

    In all seriousness though, I reckon that by not accepting the statistical results of Jedi, Pastafarian, or any religion for that matter, goes against section 12 of the census and statistics act 1905, which states, “(1) The Statistician shall compile and analyse the statistical information collected under this Act and shall publish and disseminate the results of any such compilation and analysis, or abstracts of those results.”
    Shame on the census head guy I say.

    Your article is spot on and logical Alan.
    Nice read. 🙂

  7. I don’t see how Jediism is any different from something like Scientology with it’s sci-fi roots, except perhaps that George Lucas hasn’t managed to squeeze as much cash out of his religion just yet.

  8. Exactly. By it’s very definition, no religion is out of the running. If one person in the world firmly believes that their childhood teddy bear is a deity and they worship it and use its lessons as a moral code, then that is their religion, if they choose to claim so. And no one can deny them that. People can call them an idiot, but they’re no more or less an idiot than a follower of Christianity, Islam, Scientology or Jediism.

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